Ottawa one step closer to new central library



    OTTAWA, June 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) Board
today unveiled the proposed site for Ottawa's new central library, a city
block bordered by Albert, Lyon, Bay and Slater streets. Chosen for its central
location, the site would place the new building on top of the first downtown
tunnel stop and will link to existing transit and pedestrian traffic. As a
major public institution, the new library will be a catalyst for economic
development.
    "This is both an exciting and a big step in bringing a world class civic
structure to our city - a symbol of visionary leadership," said OPL Board
Chair and Councillor Jan Harder. "The people of Ottawa love and use their
libraries - it's the highest rated service after fire and police."
    Since the current main library at Metcalfe and Laurier was built over 35
years ago, Ottawa's population has almost quadrupled. The building has
accessibility, security and efficiency challenges that cannot be dealt with at
the current site.
    "The library services and number of users have outgrown our existing
building; it's undersized and overused," said award winning City Librarian and
CEO Barbara Clubb. "Libraries play such a big role in people's lives; they
have to offer so much more than books in this vastly transformed information
age. Libraries create a level playing field by making sure citizens have free
and equal access to information - both print and electronic."
    Plans call for a new central library that will be a multi-purpose
facility serving the varied and complex needs of the whole city as well as
welcoming 10,000 visitors a day. In addition to being a civic landmark in the
downtown core, an expanded central library will be a major community
institution, serving citizens throughout the city as a meeting place and as
the nerve centre and technological 'brain' of the entire OPL system. It will
greatly expand access to both off and online information for job seekers,
young people and newcomers.
    Acting Ottawa Mayor and OPL board member Michel Bellemare stated that a
new central library supports the city's goals of being inclusive, creative,
innovative, proud and livable. "Choosing the right location is a key first
step towards building a better downtown library", said Acting Mayor Michel
Bellemare. "The future central library will become an even more important
landmark and civic attraction."
    The co-location of the new Central Library with the city's proposed light
rail transit tunnel will connect the people of this city to their library like
never before," said Councillor and Chair of Transit Committee Alex Cullen. "A
major cultural gathering place, the new Central Library will be a major
destination for residents from all parts of Ottawa."
    "This puts us on the right path towards securing an exciting future for
Ottawa," announced Councillor Maria McRae, Chair Transportation Committee.
"Together we will build a physical and cultural infrastructure truly worthy of
a capital city."
    "A larger and more accessible central library will better serve the
residents of Ottawa, both urban and rural," said Councillor and Chair
Environment and Planning Committee Peter Hume. "The downtown core is a
neighbourhood we all share and take pride in."
    A new library has been in the planning process since 2001 and is a part
of the city's larger investment in the entire library system.
    "After serving as chair of the public library board for a large portion
of my career, I have supported many initiatives directed at providing a wider
range of services and a centralized, more economical set of resources," stated
Councillor Rick Chiarelli. "I believe that the new Central Library is an
immense step forward in this direction and will further allow the people of
Ottawa to access the wealth of knowledge and enjoyment that our public library
system can offer."
    Based on several years of strategic planning and assessment on the part
of the OPL Board, a new central library was identified as a critical necessity
to support much needed expansions in community gathering space, collection
size, information technology offerings and the delivery of system-wide
services.
    "Our Libraries for Ottawa plan includes a long term vision for building,
renovating and renewing all our places and spaces, including community and
district branches, as well as building a new central library as a strong
foundation for the entire library system," explained Pamela Sweet, Vice Chair
OPL Board and Chair of the Facilities Planning Committee. "A central library
is not a replacement for the neighbourhood branches, but a vital support to
them."
    "I am very pleased that this project in my ward is proceeding," said
Councillor and Chair of the Ottawa Community Housing Committee Diane Holmes.
"The new library will be a highly visible public gathering place supporting
urban renewal and making a very liveable, vibrant and safe downtown core."
    Central libraries are the technological brain of the entire system. We
can no longer ignore the fact we've outgrown our existing central library.
It's time to start planning for the future," said Councillor and Chair of the
Community and Protective Services Committee Diane Deans. "We have a
responsibility to the people of Ottawa to keep the whole system strong."
    On June 16th , a report will go to the Corporate Services and Economic
Development Committee recommending that Council:

    
    - Approve the entire city block bounded by Lyon, Albert, Bay and Slater
      as the site for the new central library
    - Establish a 2009 capital funding authority for $26 million
    - Direct Real Estate to acquire the lands by negotiation and agreement
      and report back to Committee and Council before finalizing the
      acquisition
    

    The Main Library is located at 120 Metcalfe. Visit
www.BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca for more information about OPL services.




For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Brown, (613) 454-5252 (o), (613)
614-2894 (m)

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